July 10, 2024

Churchill at his easel by artist Paul Rafferty

On Tuesday, 25th June, at Pol Roger, Lord Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill, Randolph Churchill, Churchill’s great-grandson and Hubert de Billy, fifth generation family member of Champagne Pol Roger unveiled a striking two-metre bronze statue by Paul Rafferty of the famous British statesman Sir Winston Churchill. The piece, set against the backdrop of the recently inaugurated new Pol Roger building, shows the former Prime Minister in front of an easel, painting his famous ‘Bottlescape’ (1926). At his feet sits a Pol Roger ice bucket in which rests Churchill’s favourite cuvée, Champagne Pol Roger Brut Vintage 1928.

The ceremony was attended by distinguished guests, including members of the Churchill, Soames, and Spencer-Churchill families, Dame Menna Rawlings (His Majesty’s Ambassador in Paris), Monsieur Franck Leroy (President of the Grand Est region), Monsieur Henri Prévost (Préfet of the Marne), Christine Mazy (Mayor of Epernay) and Laurent d’Harcourt (CEO of Champagne Pol Roger). The event mirrored an historic lunch in November 1945 where Churchill was invited, along with Mary Soames, his daughter, by the then British Ambassador in Paris, Alfred Duff Cooper, to a luncheon at his official residence. A lifelong friendship was cemented between Odette Pol Roger (wife of Jacques Pol Roger and granddaughter to Sir Richard Wallace) and Winston Churchill, which endures in both families today.

The evening’s entertainment featured a performance by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Volunteer Band, comprising three pipers and two drummers. The regiment have been friends and customers of Pol Roger since 1973 when, under the stewardship of Captain Mel Jameson, while attending a Resistance commemoration event, Christian Pol Roger convinced them to perform for the family.

Guests enjoyed dinner in the newly built Salle de Bûcher, the former woodshed of the Pol Roger family home, where they were served the Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill 2013 in Jeroboam. The room sits some 30 metres above the Pol Roger cellars in which lies 10 million bottles of maturing champagne. Less than 100 metres away sits 44 Avenue de Champagne, the former home of Jacques and Odette Pol Roger and immortalised by Winston Churchill as “The most drinkable address in the world.”

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Hubert de Billy, the fifth generation of the Pol Roger family, delivered a heartfelt speech highlighting the shared history and milestones of both families. He noted that 2024 marks numerous significant anniversaries: the 175th anniversary of Pol Roger and the 150th birthday of Winston Churchill, as well as the 80th anniversary of both D-Day and the liberation of Epernay. De Billy also paid tribute to the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and their historic ties to Pol Roger.

Paul Rafferty, born in Oxford in 1965, moved from London to California in 1989, where he wrote, recorded and performed with the likes of Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Pat Benatar and Johnny Hallyday. In 2008, as an artist, he moved to the French Riviera, where he became fascinated by Winston Churchill’s paintings in Provence. Having exhibited around the world, he is represented by the Portland Gallery in London and has his own gallery in St-Paul-de-Vence on the Riviera.

Churchill was an avid painter, having taken it up during a family holiday in 1915 and continued the hobby throughout his life, creating over 500 works depicting a variety of subjects, including his goldfish pond at Chartwell and the landscapes of Marrakesh.

Jennie Churchill said of the ceremony, “WSC will be very happy here knowing the champagne beneath him will never run out!”


Note to editors: All photo credits go to © Michaël Boudot. For any further enquiries, please contact [email protected].

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